.

Starbynary - Dark Passenger


by Matt Hensch

.
The sheer number of horrid progressive metal and power metal bands from Italy is staggering. Although sorting through the oversaturated scene at times rivals the excitement of paying taxes, there is the occasional jewel in the dirt that is in every way possible superior to its surroundings, and makes all the quarrying worthwhile. Starbynary has earned the right to put itself among the top of the class if "Dark Passenger" is any indication to the smart instrumentation and excellent songwriting antics found prowling the band's progressive metal approach. "Dark Passenger" plants an initial infatuation before it even kicks off: it is lyrically based around the shenanigans of Dexter Morgan, fictional serial killer extraordinaire. But lyrics are just lyrics, and thankfully they don't overshadow the massive progressive landscape from which Symphony X is praised with grand ability. (Mike LePond, bass guitarist of Symphony X, does session work here, in fact.)

I can tell Starbynary takes after the gamut of classic progressive metal bands-influences from Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Fates Warning are clear as day. The main difference between Starbynary and other bands rehashing what the forefathers before them created is that the riffs and surrounding musical components actually dare to be varied and profound. There are all sorts of expected riffing patterns and styles this kind of thing attracts, including stop-start sequences of modern prog and more up-tempo chords found in power metal, especially reminiscent of Symphony X. The difference is that these riffs are matched by a fill-heavy percussion setting and enough keyboard and guitar solos and alterations among the pile to spice things up, keep things interesting.

It's almost difficult to pinpoint what exactly Starbynary does better than their second-rate cohorts; there is certainly more instrumental drive than the directionless, cheese-filled course of the norm. The guitar sequences la Symphony X's older albums are driving and poignant, crowned by varied keyboard work adding atmosphere and dazzling lines to Starbynary's poise. Vocals tend to be the chink in the armor of these power/progressive metal bands; "Dark Passenger" doesn't avoid this, sadly. Not to imply the singing is utter garbage, but the light tenor doesn't do much against the surrounding intensity and darker themes. But the tracks are fulfilling, held together by Starbynary's above-average songwriting and having the fundamentals of progressive metal nailed down.

The seventeen-minute "The End Begins" has enough bravado and aplomb to support its length, though it seems to end somewhat abruptly, ironically. It is otherwise such a winding, corkscrewing song paced so diligently and with the proper care that its sudden conclusion is just a petty complaint. Long story short, the pitfalls most of these bands fail to see are hopped over gracefully by Starbynary's detailed songwriting, getting a significant boost from complex musical arrangements of a high order. There is plenty of creative room for the group to explore, and thankfully "Dark Passenger" ends up having the ability to enthrall through the snaking corridors of poignant progressive metal focused around the mind of a killer.

Starbynary - Dark Passenger
Rating:

Share this article

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Pin it Share on Reddit email this article